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How Snowy Montana Led ‘Certain Women’ to Be Shot on 16mm Film

"The payoff with film is it’s just not as hard and flat and there’s more grain and more texture."

Kelly Reichardt’s latest film Certain Women is made up of three poignant vignettes each centering around a different woman living in Montana. To shoot it, Reichardt and DP Christopher Blauvelt chose 16mm film, even though that wasn’t the original plan.

“Originally, I wanted to shoot on film, but I was worried that with the turnaround [time] of getting dailies back into Montana, one section of the film would be done before I would have dailies back, and I wouldn’t be able to afford to bring the actors back,” Reichardt tells Filmmaker Magazine. “So it was decided that, practically, we had to shoot digitally. We went out to our ranch, my DP Chris Blauvelt and I, and we did a test shoot on a very snowy day. Looking at the footage, the snow just looked like a solid block of white. It was so absolute and hard-lined and with a lack of detail. I spent all my test shoot resources on that test shoot, and then at the last second, I said ‘We’ve got to go film.’ So we switched back to film, and then we didn’t get to test our lenses. The big challenge was that we didn’t get to test shoot. I sort of used my test shoot nugget on HD. That’s what the test shoot should be for, but we went in a different direction. But the payoff with film is it’s just not as hard and flat and there’s more grain and more texture.”

Read the full story here.

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